Saturday, March 17, 2012

Forgiveness and What I know About It

I do not intend this post to sound arrogant, so forgive me if you read it and it comes across that way. My intentions are merely to share my experience with forgiveness.

We all (at least that is the hope) know that God sent His son Jesus to die for us so that our sins will be forgiven. Generally speaking, amongst those who have faith in Christ, we accept this truth and live with it as a safety net. We don't always use it, feel like we need it, want it or understand the details of it. BUT! It is always there.

However, when we fall, and realize how important that safety net is, we learn to appreciate the net, taking in not only it's usefulness, but it's beauty and intricate detail as well. We are assured it works beyond our wildest imagination and then we are comforted and empowered to try again, maybe taking an even bigger risk.

I've had a few rough patches in my life, and a few not so rough patches, that left me hurt and broken. In many cases I was even unaware of the brokenness or hurt until I was confronted with a trigger that made me relive that particular event (not literally, I'm speaking about emotions and memories). It seems since I've known Christ as an adult and spent time intently seeking Him I discover wounds from my past all the time. When this first began happening I was confused as to my role in this journey. What was I to do about these feelings? How was I to heal? To move on? To rebuild? I thought following Christ meant that I was not defined by those events.

Well, I believe because I was seeking Him, I found people who were so full of passion, grace, mercy and a willingness to walk this path with me that I found my way in and through the path less traveled of forgiveness. I learned from these amazing individuals that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Offering forgiveness doesn't mean that you no longer hurt or have negative feelings about the offense or offender. Offering forgiveness is simply freeing yourself of the burden of the ordeal and allowing yourself to move through the process of healing. Without forgiveness I don't believe you are truly capable of healing, no matter how much time has past.

Forgiveness, I believe, in our society is seen as something we offer to benefit the offender and so we choose very regularly to not offer this gift up. After all, it is socially acceptable to deny the one who hurt us no matter how deeply or insignificant the pain is. But this my friends, is where we miss the mark. In doing this we torture ourselves. Forcing our heart, mind and soul to continue to relive the moment of pain. We freely add baggage with heavy chains to our souls.

It's like picking at a scab every time it forms. It never allows the cut to heal properly. It can get infected, never heal, get staph or many other bad things. However, if you acknowledge the hurt and pain, allow the bleeding to stop, clean it with soap and water, bandage it and wait it'll get a little bit better everyday.

Forgiveness isn't a solution to problems either. It's not something we can earn. It is not for sell. It is not a one-step process. It is not weakness. It is not a one-way ticket. Forgiveness is not a get out of jail free card. Forgiveness is not ignoring or denying that you are broken. Forgiveness isn't a misjudgement or misunderstanding.

Forgiveness is Free. It offers Freedom. It is Powerful. It is life altering. It is amazing and wonderful and terrifying all at the same time. Forgiveness is Difficult. Forgiveness often requires many attempts. Forgiveness is good. Forgiveness is allowing God to be in control.

There are so many times I've forgiven those that have hurt me and yet, I regularly am reminded to continue to forgive. For me, it's difficult to remember when those memories creep up and the emotions take over that I have already forgiven for that. So I must get on my knees and forgive again. Asking God to be in control, help me to let it go, heal my heart and soul back to wholeness and show me how this pain will benefit others around me.

God uses all things for good. Even those bad, nasty, ugly things we don't like to talk about or deal with. Forgiveness has to be the first step on the road to healing so that you can change lives through your misfortune. It's symbolic of the cross and how Christ died for us, because of us. He was wonderful and perfect as a human, just as we see all new babies. And some people with evil in their hearts came along and messed it all up. Then He was forced to walk a road so painful He couldn't even do it alone. He relied on God to get through the rough patch and the healing began even before the hurt was over. Forgiveness was requested and offered and then given. And our Saviour rose so that we all may receive this remarkable gift and then follow in His footsteps.